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Anyone have opinions on pet insurance?

My two daschunds are 2 years old, and I don’t have pet insurance. I do have a little emergency fund, and set aside money every 2 weeks to plump it up. My reasoning is that I’ve heard too many horror stories about insurance companies not coming through – negating the claim – and I don’t want to pay into something that may not pay out when I need it!

Plus, daschunds are prone to back problems, and I suspect insurance companies don’t cover this particular issue.

So I’ve been putting money into a savings account instead.

Recently though, a client told me how much she wished she’d had insurance for a multiple-thousand dollar surgery.   Now I’m second guessing my decision.

Anyone have experience with pet insurance? Good? Bad?  Should I get it?


About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. Hi there:

    Here is my experience with Pet Insurance. When we got our puppy we decided that we wanted pet insurance. One of the reasons I wanted insurance was I never wanted to make a medical decision based on ability to pay. We researched all the available options and went with the one that gave the best overall coverage. The impression was that if we enrolled as a puppy the coverage would never change. I unfortuantly read this to mean the rate would stay the same. So we were prepared to pay a certain amount per year for the whole of our dog’s life knowing that most problems occur with ageing. On the first anniversary of the coverage we were shocked when we got a bill that informed us that the rate was going to double!! Of course they gave all sorts of reasons why, increased vet costs, dogs living longer etc. At this new rate we decided it was much better idea for us to invest the money our selves. Who knows what they would have increased it to the following years!
    Later we heard from a Vet that this is a common practice , lower rates for the first year to intice you into the plan. We would have continued it if the rate increased due to inflation or a small percentage, but double???

    Of course , six months later our dog proceeded to eat a sock (don’t ask) and we encountered a huge bill…..but I hate to think how much the insurance would have gone up if we put a claim through.

    So my advice is to put the money into a savings account and then roll some of it over into higher interest products when possible. Be your own pet insurance company.



    Feb 18, 2008
  2. I think I would lean on investing for myself (no surprise) but such a cute doggy!


    Feb 18, 2008
  3. I never got it for my Lab, and ended up paying several thousand dollars in vet bills when he was diagnosed with cancer. I’m not sure what the insurance would have covered (he has surgery and then chemo)… I also had a savings account just for him, for the last 5 years I had him. I then cash flowed the balance (I had a great paying job at that time, thankfully). I probably would have paid a lot in premiums in his first 7 years (he just went for yearly checkups pretty much), so I’m not sure how it would have ended up saving me at the end.

    It’s definitely worth checking into…

    Your baby in that pic is gorgeous 🙂


    Feb 18, 2008
  4. @mariam and @canadiansaver – Cranmer is blushing. His sister and comrade-at-arms remains miffed that she’s not in the photo.
    @MJ and @canadiansaver – it amazes me that pet care can go into the thousands of dollars (makes me thankful for our human healthcare system, even if it isn’t working all that well). Tx for chiming in; I think I’ll continue with my own self-insurance.
    Hmm… I wonder … if, say, 10 of us got together, could we create our own micro-insurance? I wonder if it would end up as unhelpful as insurance (@MJ – what a Scam!! about the sudden increase), or if it could actually work.


    Feb 18, 2008
  5. In my experience, the average serious incident that requires xrays, blood tests, operation can set you back $2,000 to $4,000. If cancer occurs, something that happens in my dog’s breed, the numbers go up. In my mind I need to have access to $10,000 for my dog especially when she is older. Those numbers don’t include the chewed articles we had to replace from her puupy days, including diamond earrings, headphones, cell phone jacks. But she is well worth it!


    Feb 19, 2008
  6. Darrell

    Hey, I just purchased dog insurance for my 5 month old yorkshire terrier puppy. It was about $35/month or so through vetinsurance.com (I think). I like that it covers all conditions (doesn’t exclude conditions that might be specific or occurs more for my breed although I think they exclude hip dysplasia in general and of course pre-existing conditions), and that they also included a sort of id tag in case she ever got lost (with a phone # to call vetinsurance and a unique ID number but not her name). Also, instead of placing limits on categories of coverage like most companies, they just have a lifetime limit of $20,000 which can be used all at once or split up for the same condition or completely different conditions. Almost like a Critical Illness policy for humans. There’s also extras like reward if she’s lost/stolen, cremation, etc. and tenants liability insurance. I work in the (human) insurance field (life, disability, etc.) so I’m all about insurance 🙂 Also, they pay 90% of costs, the only thing you pay for is the 10% copay and the vet’s exam fee (which is usually about $50). This allows the premiums to be slightly less than other companies and the insurance % to be higher (90% vs. 70-80%).
    I’m glad I got it for now, especially while she’s a puppy and such a small dog and susceptible to things like leg injuries, luxating patella and Leggs perth syndrome. We’ll see how long I keep it for but for the first couple of years (for this breed anyways), I think it’s worth it and I would imagine it might be worth it for your cutie patootie too.

    Note: I do not have any connection with Vetinsurance.com other than being a client and I’ve never made a claim so I have no idea how good their claims process is.


    Feb 21, 2008
  7. @D – thanks for the recommendation and an alternative point of view. Always good to hear a non-biased experience too. I’ll check into them. I really like the flat $20K idea. I’d be interested in learning if you experience what MJ did – next year, they suddenly double your premiums.
    @MJ – $10K. That’s a reality check for me. I’ve just been saving $50/month. It would take me 20 years to save enough for the kind of operations your dog needed, at that rate.


    Feb 22, 2008
  8. Wow is he ever cute! I have two big guys getting older in life and have been very lucky in life not to have had very large bills for them. I did have a terrible experience with my asthmatic cat one night where I had to spend the last $500 I had on my credit card (and no money in the bank!) for emergency treatment.

    Every time I looked into insurance it seemed prohibitively expensive on a small budget, but now that we are better established I should probably look into the insurance discussed above. I would be interested to hear what you find out!


    Feb 23, 2008
  9. Speaking of pet insurance…do you have a caregiver assigned to take care of your dogs if anything should happen to you either temporarily or permament? It is a good idea to make sure someone has a set of keys and can gain access to your place to take care of the dogs if necessary.

    Our original agreement with our breeder is that our dog goes back to him if anything should happen to us. We have also provided in our wills for money to be used for the care of our dog. Just in case….


    Feb 25, 2008

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